PHOENIX — Up for a challenge?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is now accepting registration for the annual Arizona Small Game Challenge, created in partnership with the Valley of the Sun Chapter of Quail Forever for hunters to experience the state’s abundance of small game hunting opportunities.

“Small game is big fun,” said Larisa Harding, the department’s small game program manager. “We’re heading into a great time of year, and we want all hunters to get out and discover how rewarding small game hunting can be. 

“Taking part in the Arizona Small Game Challenge is a great way to do just that, especially with family and friends. In the process, every $25 registration will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Valley of the Sun Chapter of Quail Forever to improve habitat that will directly benefit small game in Arizona.”  

What it is

The Arizona Small Game Challenge is comprised of four individual challenges

  • Desert (harvest five of seven): mourning dove, white-winged dove, Eurasian collared-dove, cottontail rabbit, Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.
  • Mountain (harvest five of seven): Dusky (blue) grouse, chukar, band-tailed pigeon, cottontail rabbit, tree squirrel (Kaibab, Red, Abert’s).
  • Native Quail: Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.
  • Upland Bird: Dusky (blue) grouse, chukar, Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.    

A good first step toward completing all four individual challenges might be to start with the Desert Challenge. A hunter only needs five of seven desert species to complete the challenge, and three of those species are doves — mourning, white-winged and Eurasian collared. With the start of the dove season Sunday, Sept. 1, hunters can knock out that first challenge in pretty short order.   
How it works

The first step is to register at https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/species/smallgame/challenge-info/. The registration fee is $25 per challenge (a hunter is eligible for only one challenge per year, Sept. 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2020). Then go hunting in accordance with all legal requirements, including season dates. 

Be sure to take a time-stamped photograph of each species harvested for a particular challenge, then visit the website and fill out the verification form to certify the completion of that challenge. All photographs and the completed verification form should be emailed to: lharding@azgfd.gov, or mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Small Game Program Manager (Attn.: Larisa Harding), 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ, 85086. Photographs will not be returned.

Recognition

A hunter who completes his or her first challenge will receive a plaque that includes an engraving plate to mark the achievement. The plaque comes with space for additional engraving plates as a hunter completes one of the remaining challenges each hunting season.

General rules

  • A hunter must be registered at the time of harvest and the completion of the challenge. 
  • All small game species must be harvested during the general season.
  • Game birds must be “wild” birds, not those raised in captivity and released.
  • Registration is valid Sept. 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2020.
  • Registration is limited to 100 participants per year.

General season dates

  • Dove: Sept. 1-Sept. 15, 2019 (mourning, white-winged, Eurasian collared), Nov. 22, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020 (mourning, Eurasian collared), Sept. 1, 2019-Aug. 31, 2020 (Eurasian collared).
  • Quail: Oct. 18, 2019-Feb. 9, 2020 (Gambel’s, scaled); Dec. 6, 2019-Feb. 9, 2020 (Mearns’).
  • Cottontail rabbit: July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020.
  • Dusky (blue) grouse: Sept. 1-Nov. 10, 2019.
  • Chukar: Sept. 1, 2019-Feb. 9, 2020.
  • Band-tailed pigeon: Oct. 4-17, 2019.
  • Tree squirrel: Oct. 4-Dec. 31, 2019 (Abert’s, Kaibab, Red).

Need a license? Then consider buying more than just an individual hunting license. Go online and purchase a combo hunt and fish license that will be valid for the next 365 days – and for only $20 more (for state residents) than the price of an individual hunting or fishing license. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/license/ to get a combo hunt and fish license today. A youth combo hunt and fish license (ages 10 to 17) remains $5.  

Did you know?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department conserves and protects Arizona’s 800+ wildlife species but receives NO Arizona general fund tax dollars. Contribute to our on-the-ground conservation efforts at www.AzWildlifeHero.com.

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